THESE are the first photos of five friends who died at Camber Sands after “misjudging how quickly the tide would come in”.
The group – two of whom were brothers – drowned at Camber Sands beach in Sussex after travelling down from London on the hottest day of the year.
The men have been named locally as Nitharsan Ravi, Kuru Anna, Inthushan Sri and brothers Kobi and Ken Nathan – all from south-east London.
They are believed to be from the Tamil community in Greenwich, south-east London.
It is thought Nitharsan drove his four friends down to the seaside resort for the day.
His cousin said: “Yea we think it’s him. He hasn’t been formally identified yet – we’re still waiting for that – but the police have contacted us and we think it’s him.
“We’re not really sure about anything at the moment. We literally just found out today.
“We don’t know anything for definite yet.”
It is thought the men drowned after misjudging how quickly the tide would come in.
The RNLI believes they became stuck in deep channels of water called sandbars – 3ft (1m) deep undulations – which had been made deeper with the weekend storms.
Why is Camber Sands so dangerous and what are rip tides?
As the details of the latest tragedies emerge we ask why is the sea off the Sussex seaside resort so dangerous?
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner Katy Bourne said rip tides can make the sea off Camber Sands lethal. She said: “People need to understand that although the sun is shining and the sea is lovely to play in there are dangers there that you need to know about. “My first reaction to this was there are rip tides that happen at Camber Sands and people do not understand about rip tides.” Rip tides are powerful, fast flowing bodies of water that can drag even experienced swimmers into deep water. The deadly tides are created when wind and waves push large amounts water towards the shore. The water streams along the shore until it finds a route back into open water and then creates a fast travelling current. Rip tides tend to be narrow – measuring about two to three metres and moving at a speed of four to five kilometres an hour. However, rip tides can grow to the dangerous size of 50 by 400 metres, and achieve speeds of 15km an hour. Rip tides are notoriously difficult to spot but the following can all be indicators. A channel of fast-flowing water moving at an angle towards the shore. The water around the beach being a different colour (a white area, surrounded by green or light blue water). An area made up of foam, marine plants and bubbles flowing towards the sea. A 5-10 metre gap in an area of flowing waves. The RNLI has given the following advice if you find yourself trapped in one of the deadly tides. Don’t try and swim against the current, this will not release you from the rip tide and will exhaust you. If you can stand and wade rather than swim. If you can, free yourself from the current by swimming parallel to shoreline. Always raise your hand and shout for help. Rip tides account for 60per cent of all RNLI lifeguard incidents and Sussex officials have been quick to say that tragedies remain rare. A council spokesperson said: “While it’s very upsetting to see two similar, tragic incidents this summer, over the years these kind of incidents are extremely rare and on a fine day around 25,000 people use the beach safely.”
Friends began paying tribute to the victims today, with Jackson Bosco sharing an emotional message to Nitharsan on Facebook.
He said: “Can’t believe to hear the news you were one of the boys at #CamberSands.
“You were truly a good person with a good heart. You are going to be missed on this earth.
“Condolences and prayers to the family at this time.”
Charles Bosco said he was “feeling sad” and added: “RIP Nitharsan Ravi. Still can’t believe you’re gone.
“Anyone going to the beach. Please look after yourselves.”
RNLI confirm five bodies have been pulled from the sea at Camber Sands. Nitharsan’s and Kobi’s Facebook pages say they studied at the University of Brighton. All three Facebook pages say the men are from Sri Lanka and live in Greenwich. Earlier reports said the three men were “fully-clothed” – but police have since confirmed all five victims were dressed for the beach. Three of the victims, in their 20s, were pulled ashore at Camber Sands, East Sussex. Two were found later. Police have now identified the men and believe they were all friends who came to the beach from London for the day. Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly said: “We believe we now know who the men are and that they came to the beach together for the day.”We believe they are all in their late teens and early 20s and come from the Greater London area.”These men were not fully clothed when they were pulled from the sea but wearing clothes appropriate for being at the beach for the day. “We have no further reports of anyone else missing from Camber and there are no on-going searches related to this incident.
“This has been an incredibly tragic incident and we are offering their next of kin support at this difficult time and our thoughts are with them.”
The tragedy was shrouded in mystery yesterday as police worked to establish how the victims ended up drowning.
One theory was they drowned after being dragged out to sea by a riptide, which has caused deaths there in the past.
But the beach has relatively shallow water and was said to be calm yesterday afternoon.
Witnesses said the first three men were fully clothed and did not appear to have any family or friends on the beach with them.
It led to speculation the victims could be illegal immigrants – which has since been disproved.
A Sussex Police source earlier insisted: “We’ve been advised that there is currently nothing to suggest the men were migrants.”
Five men have been found dead at Camber Sands beach in Sussex
Air ambulance lands as three swimmers pulled from the sea at Camber Sands in East Sussex
Another theory was the men had been injured in a jellyfish attack – but Sussex Police confirmed the incident was “in no way jellyfish related”.
Three of the men’s bodies were hauled on to a packed beach by the public and lifeguards.
One beach-goer said police told her to stay out of the sea due to a rip tide while another, who declined to be named, said: “We noticed when we came here that there were no lifeguards. We had kids here and we were worried about them.”
He said he could not understand how the men had run into difficulties as the sea appeared calm.
“The sea is very shallow for quite a long way,” he said. “It seems so strange how they got into trouble. There was no waves and no wind.”
Rob Manning, who works at Bavarian Beach Grill, saw one if the men pulled from the water.
He said: “I saw them take one of them back up on the pick up and they were giving him CPR.
“I heard it was a group of men who got into trouble. How could five men get in trouble? It was a lovely day there wasn’t a ripple in the sea.
“If it was a red flag day and the sea was rough you could see how they got into trouble, but the sea was perfect. It’s really strange.”
A spokesman for Rother District Council said that, despite there being no lifeguards, there are summer patrols to advise people of potential dangers, reunite lost children with their families and deal with incidents on the beach.
“While it’s very upsetting to see two similar, tragic incidents this summer, over the years these kind of incidents are extremely rare and on a fine day around 25,000 people use the beach safely,” he said.
“Although it’s too early to draw any conclusions from this latest incident, in recent years we have seen a change in the make-up of visitors to Camber, including more people from outside the area who are not familiar with the sea and the dangers it can pose.”
Emergency crews were called to the scene shortly after 2pm following reports that one man was in difficulty in the sea.
Rita Wilcox, 61, from Sidcup, Kent, who was on the beach with husband Alan and two grandchildren, said: “We don’t know if the men were washed up or caught in a riptide.”
Another witness said: “They had all their clothes on — shorts and T-shirts.
“We found it quite odd because we didn’t see any family or anything for them on the beach.”
Mum-of-two Kelly Thisleton, 40, also from Sidcup, said: “We saw someone pulling a young black guy out of the water. All the beach guards rushed down.
“It was three black gentlemen in their late 20s in the end.”
A helicopter was seen hovering above the coastline at 10pm after the other two bodies were found.
Last night Richard Tollett, lifeboat operations manager at Rye Harbour, said: “As the tide has receded it has left a couple more bodies on the beach in the sand at Camber.
“A member of the public found them and reported another one in the water so we have got two lifeboats and a helicopter searching the area.”
The two bodies discovered at low tide at 8pm were both young males.
Chief Superintendent Di Roskilly said: “This has been an incredibly tragic situation. At this stage we are doing all we can to establish who the men are and to identify next of kin.
“We are continuing to work with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency, Royal National Lifeboat Institute, South East Coast Ambulance and Rother District Council to establish what has happened.”
He added: “This has been a very traumatic for those who were on the beach.”
The beach was earlier cleared by officers trying to find any items that may have belonged to the casualties.
Sun-lovers had been relaxing on a day when the temperature peaked at 33.8°C in Cavendish, Suffolk.
Paula Day, 49, from the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, said: “The first thing we saw was a helicopter flying really low. Then later we saw someone being resuscitated.
Police were telling everyone to get out of the sea because of a riptide.
“It was heaving with people here. We have been coming here for years and we have never seen anything like this. The sea was fine.”
Before the death toll was updated, a statement from Rye Harbour lifeboat station said: “Three males, unresponsive, had been dragged from the water at Camber.
“The lifeboat carried out a comprehensive search from Rye Harbour to the Suttons at Camber with nothing found.”
“Camber is safe; it’s not massively deep. But you do find people go in even if they can’t swim and then get into difficulty. It’s not a pool with steps, which doesn’t have a current. The beach is a different entity all together.
Paul Osborne, ward member for Eastern Rother, which covers Camber, for Rother District Council, said this morning (Thurs) he was waiting to hear the full details about yesterday’s tragic incident, in which five men lost their lives.
He said: “We don’t have a lot of information at the moment about what happened. We’re awaiting an update.
“It’s odd that no one seemed to be reported missing. We’re trying to establish if the people are from the same group. At the moment we just don’t know.
“But I suppose until the police know what happened, they don’t want people speculating, and until they know everything, they can’t release it.”
He added: “Camber is safe; it’s not massively deep. But you do find people go in even if they can’t swim and then get into difficulty. It’s not a pool with steps, which doesn’t have a current. The beach is a different entity all together.
“Personally I wouldn’t go into the sea, and I can swim. I wouldn’t risk it.”
Last month Brazilian tourist Gustavo Silva Da Cruz, 19, was found dead after being swept out on the same beach.
Since Friday, seven other people have lost their lives around the coastline following stormy conditions.